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This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Twitter’s “You Both Follow”

June 5, 2010

Micro-blogging juggernaut Twitter is rolling out a new feature called You Both Follow, which seems to be the app equivalent of Dr. Torres introducing two sick kids to each other in the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, “He hates chicken. You hate chicken. Discuss.” CNN’s understanding of the feature – rolled out last night for 10% of users – isn’t making me wish I was one of the lucky 10%.

You Both Follow” would let a user click on someone else’s profile and see which Twitter feeds the two of them have in common.

Presumably, someone who follows lots of the same feeds you do has similar interests and may be worth a follow themselves. (source)

With the exception of office supply feeds, I prefer to follow people not interests. My requirements are: tweets are informative, entertaining and interactive. I follow people who are balanced in their use of retweets, “@” and original content. I shun tweet spammers who fill my page with tweet after tweet of inane blathering, mostly to some unseen “@” person I don’t follow.

I’ll give you a good example of the kind of user I do follow. Damon Brown is a phenomenal writer who blogs about technology and other new hotness. I am not an early adopter and I pretty much use my tech gear until the people at big box retailers won’t sell me no more service packs, patches or upgrades. That said, I’m addicted to his tweets, which direct me to engaging content and fresh perspectives. The way he writes about technology and marketplace trends challenges me to reevaluate the electronic gadgetry in my own life and the folks peddling it to me. His writing is crisp and accessible. Plus, he’s vouched for by TWO people from very different eras of my life – high school friend Heather, long time mutual admiration society member Raymond J) – each saying the same thing, “He’s cool as shit, baby!” This new twitter feature is not going to help me find more great users like Damon.

I tend to tweet about film and what disruptions the neighbors are causing. The former being a passion and the latter being an annoyance. The content of my tweets isn’t going to be focused enough to do either subject justice, thus those with an interest in film or loud neighbors will find my feed rather lackluster.

This feature doesn’t take into account varied reasons – many of them probably shady – people elect to follow particular feeds. A Facebook friend recounted – behind monster privacy settings – following the feed of a cheerleader from her high school who was tweeting her journey to lose the baby weight. My response here and there was, “Damn, how sad is it to be you?” For the record, I’m not above engaging in a bit of Schadenfollow™ myself. Maybe Twitter needs a Schadenfreude feed search.

You know what Twitter actually needs – a bug zapper. Zapping users whenever they attempt to post more than five tweets in a row. Zap the shit out of them. That would rule and be far more useful. Since we’re on the subject of Zapp…

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2010 7:29 pm

    1. Schadenfollow is a fabulous neologism.

    2. I guess I’m just a misanthropic geek, I don’t get the what’s behind the need to turn every technology into something resembling OKCupid.

  2. June 6, 2010 2:03 pm

    Twitter should really think about using a “mama” pop up. “Are you sure the world really needs 18 tweets in a row from you? Let others have a turn, baby.”

  3. June 6, 2010 5:14 pm

    In general, Twitter is too high maintenance for me. I am not on a computer enough for it to be very useful to me. This sounds so awful. Just another example of technology that encourages overload, not editing.

    Damn kids, getoffamylawn.

  4. June 6, 2010 6:57 pm

    Spoon, the sad part is that as it was initially conceived Twitter would be an excellent media tool for an artist like you! But as it stands now the signal-to-blathering ratio is enough to drive desirable users away. You being, a perfect example.

  5. Candice permalink
    June 7, 2010 7:42 am

    This new feature seems pretty useless. What I would like to be able to do is opt out of reading peoples conversations with each other. Most folks keep that shit to a minimum and make it entertaining for all, since the tweets can be read by anyone following both parties. But there are some people I generally enjoy following but want to physically injure when they are going back and forth making plans for Friday night. The DM function is tragically underused.

    That being said, I am not ashamed to say I think Twitter is awesome. Ok, I’m a little ashamed.

  6. badhedgehog permalink
    June 7, 2010 10:41 am

    I suppose someone who follows a lot of the same people I do might have similar interests, and they might be worth a follow. Although if the overlap of followed accounts consists of official Formula 1 teams, Formula 1 racing drivers, and motor racing commentators, all it tells me is that the other person is another motorsport fan, not that they’re worth a follow. I do have a bunch of people on my feed who are motorsport fans who like to have a bit of a live tweet during races, but it’s a fairly small bunch.

    What I would like is for some users to take a slightly “less is more” approach to follow recommendations. I like the newish setting in TweetDeck that allows you to filter tweets from a certain user or containing a certain search term. I’ve used it to filter out the term #ff from my feed, and I am so glad to be able to take the proverbial hot bag of “no thanks” with extra vinegar on Follow Friday. I’m missing out on some good recommendations, for sure, but I don’t have to scroll through the couple of sweet well meaning people who #ff THEIR WHOLE DAMN FRIENDS LIST *TO* THEIR WHOLE DAMN FRIENDS LIST EVERY SODDING WEEK any more.

  7. June 7, 2010 10:56 am

    hot bag of “no thanks” with extra vinegar

    Ooh I love the idea of adding condiments to my hot bag of no thanks!

  8. June 7, 2010 1:03 pm

    I love #FF since it usually provides at least one or two shoutouts and a couple of people worth following. I don’t have the problems with #FF you’ve observed, BHH, but I’m sure if I did I probably wouldn’t like it as much.

  9. June 8, 2010 7:32 am

    Of all the software algorithms that are supposed to predict what you’ll like, I’ve never come across one yet that was accurate. If I’m a fan of a public figure, Google directs me to sites dedicated to hating them. Nice going, programs.

  10. June 8, 2010 8:12 am

    @Heather actually the best matching algorithm I’ve found is OKCupid‘s. Not perfect by any means but still better than a coin flip. And of course, not everyone is interested in a sorta-mostly-but-not-really-entirely dating site.

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